Summer Running and Summer Salads

John and I are about to take some time off for the wedding. Ever since my area exam I've been working what I think of as regular hours on my dissertation in order to take a long period of time off this summer. My brain feels something like this Rameau tornado:

Some day I'll write a real post about my dissertation research, but you know, not right now. Suffice to say I'm ready for a break. 

In the mean time, John and I have been running a lot of miles and making a lot of salads out of Appetite for Reduction. I wanted to save the salad recipes for the summer when veggies are fresh and haven't traveled as far. So far, the salads in this book are blowing my mind. Every one of them is so good and has a dressing so delicious I could eat it with a spoon.

Above: Goddess Niçoise, with green beans, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, and a delicious green dressing with chives, cilantro, and miso, among other ingredients. 
Below: Edamame Sushi Roll Salad. Holy crap, this is good. We served it with dressing on the side, and as suggested, a dish with soy sauce and a little wasabi. I dipped each bite in both and it tasted so much like sushi! The salad itself has edamame and brown rice sprinkled on lettuce, with carrots, cucumbers, avocado, and sesame seeds. And the dressing tastes a lot like the ginger dressing common in Japanese restaurants. I wanted to lick the bowl.

And, since blogging transitions are for chumps, here's some running stuff. 

This summer, I've been following the 10k training plan from Run Less, Run Faster. The point was to sort of shake things up, since I feel like I'm not really running up to my potential in races and I was getting kind of bored with my routine. I wanted to be challenged, and I'm getting my wish. Every work out has very specific time goals based on previous race times, and every single one has been HARD. But hard in a good way. I don't think I'm hurting myself and I've noticed a lot of improvement in the five weeks or so that I've been using the plan. Every run has a very definite purpose now, and it's more mentally engaging than what I was used to. 
Since I'm running a half marathon in October, I'm just using the 10k plan now to get in shape to do the half marathon plan. And it's a pretty tough 10k plan compared to what I've done. Last week's longest run was 10 miles, meant to be run at a 9:38-per-mile pace. I've been able to run most of the runs at the proscribed time, but I've taken breaks that are not part of the plan. Even though every run is specifically timed, I've tried to maintain flexibility in my attitude, since I'm just sort of training to train at this point. I just want to get used to running this way, internalizing different paces. It can be mentally grueling and difficult for a perfectionist such as myself if I take the times too literally. All the sudden a 10:00-per-mile average pace for a 9 mile run can feel like a failure because it wasn't the proscribed time. That's crazy talk and it's ultimately not helping.

In order to combat that rigidity, I decided that for my 10 mile run last week I would ditch my usual route and try a new part of town, complete with a woodsy trail system I'd never visited called Medway Forest. I ran from home to Huron College, the Anglican college affiliated with Western. There's an entrance to the trail system just behind the college. I hoped to approximate a route, based on the map and John's previous experience, that included about 2 miles on the trail system. But it's virtually impossible to know exactly how far the trail goes just by looking at the map, so I knew the route I mapped was just a guess. On top of that, trails tend to slow me down. The whole run provided a much needed refresher from the Run Less, Run Faster method. 

What was meant to be 2 miles turned out to be more like 3. Even though the trails on the map look like they kind of dead end, they are mostly connected by smaller, unofficial trails, some very rocky and some pleasantly wide and run-able. I got out my phone a couple of times to look myself up on the GPS (and snap a photo), but I knew to keep the river to my right. I eventually popped out of the trail system on Wonderland, a main drag in town, and kept going for about 5 more miles. 
I have to say, Medway Forest is kind of amazing. It's beautiful, and much bigger than it looks on the map, and the trees are tall like the ones at the Pinery. I truly felt like I was miles away from London, which was another mental escape. I definitely want to incorporate it again, maybe with the GPS watch so that I know how far I've really run.

This run was so encouraging. Running the trail portion at a slower-than-proscribed pace made the rest of the run feel amazing. I ended up taking 1:42:xx to run about 10 miles, and I'm pretty pleased with that, since I did some walking and maneuvering on the trail. I didn't feel like I'd been hit by a truck at the end of the run, and while I'm sure the cooler weather helped with that, I think it also means the new running plan is paying off. And that just gave me more motivation to get back into the plan this week! Of course, traveling for the wedding will mean some slight alterations in the plan, and at some point I have to actually switch from the 10k plan to the half marathon plan. But I'm enjoying all the fast running. Pushing myself has been so rewarding thus far.


John's Birthday and Ollie's Visit

This weekend was definitely the best of the summer so far, especially because we got to dog-sit for our friend Gwen. Her very sweet and well behaved dog, Ollie, came to stay at Auntie Abby's house for three nights.

 I took him to Gibbons Park and we walked the woodsy trail there. It was fairly damp that day, so Ollie wore his camp-raincoat.

John and I also took him to an empty ball diamond very near our house so that he could play fetch and run around. This dog cannot get enough fetch. He ran some of my speed work out this afternoon and he was pretty wiped after the second repeat. I let him sit out of the second two, not wanting to give him heat stroke. But when we got home, he rolled his orange ball over to my foot, as if to say, "I'M READY! FETCH!"

Thanks for the update, Facebook. 

John's birthday started out with a game of fetch with Ollie, followed by diner breakfast at Prince Albert's Diner, a local institution. 

We also hit up the Western Fair Farmer's Market before coming home to watch Die Hard and try out the mojito jello shots I made. This was my first time making jello shots, and I have to admit, it was great. They're really easy to make and truly did taste like a jello-y mojito.

For dinner we went to Milo's.

I tried to get a reflective shot of John doing a funny dance, but he always spots me right when I get the camera out.

Mean while, I had arranged for several friends to set out some party supplies and food at the house. John loves to be surprised, and as hard as it was to keep all of the party planning a secret, it was so worth it. I think he thought he was having a nightmare at the moment when they jumped out to surprise him. His scream was high pitched and epic. So worth it. 

I made IPA lemon bars from the Beeroness for the party and they were much better than I expected. I'm not a big lemon dessert fan, but these were really buttery and delicious, with just a hint of IPA.

Our friends generously brought more beer and snacks, and we sampled various bottles for a few hours. John said he doesn't think I can top this year's birthday, but I was going for something big because, holy crap, he's 30 now! John is old!